Close to Home: How to Bring Your Cultural Traditions to the Funeral Service

Monday, November 2, 2020

When you plan a funeral or go to one to pay your respects,  you want to celebrate the life of the deceased. Not only is it important to honor the deceased, but you also want to pay your respects to the family and loved ones. 

On the part of the family, they want to plan a funeral service that best shares the life lived by their loved one. If you have a loved one with strong cultural traditions, you want those to be a part of the funeral service. It's how you will best show the life they lived and what mattered most to them. 

Around the globe, many cultures have their own unique funeral traditions. Read on to learn about some unique cultural traditions celebrated in other places. 

Fantasy Coffins

Here is the US, choosing a coffin means looking at what it's made of and how it looks. In Ghana, the tradition is to create a fantasy coffin for the deceased. 

This fantasy coffin should showcase the interests and passions of the deceased. One coffin, for example, takes on the shape of a fish for a man who was a passionate fisherman. 

Aboriginal Tradition

The northern Aboriginal tribes in Australia don't use a coffin at all. Once deceased, mourners will light incense to create smoke where the deceased once lived. This belief sends the spirits of the loved one away. 

Then those honoring the deceased gather for a big meal while the deceased's body lays wrapped and placed on a pedestal. The body is left there to decompose.

Turning of the Bones

While this would not be allowed in the US, in Madagascar the Malagasy people practice a tradition with their deceased called famadihana or turning of the bones

On this day of the dead, every 5 to 7 years, the dead get exhumed then sprayed with wine and perfume. Their wrapped bodies are turned. It's believed it gives the loved ones a chance to visit and share family news with the deceased. They dance and have quite a celebration too.

Sky Burial

In Mongolia and Tibet, the Vajrayana Buddhists believe that when a person dies, their physical body is left behind as an empty vessel. The spirit leaves the body and goes to the sky. 

They believe the body should be cut into pieces and left open and exposed at the top of a mountain. The physical body disappears because the spirit has already left it. 

Many Tibetan people, even in a more modern world, still believe in this funeral practice. 

Bring Your Loved One's Culture to Their Funeral Service

As you consider your own funeral if you are pre-planning or planning the funeral of a loved one, consider what cultural traditions might be important to include in a funeral service. 

These could be religious traditions, from their cultural heritage or family traditions that are important to make part of the funeral celebration.

Cultural Traditions In a Funeral Service

Bringing in cultural traditions to a funeral service helps to show the life lived of the deceased. It shows what they celebrated while alive and what was important to them.

If you need assistance in making funeral decisions, or are interested in doing funeral pre-planning, we can help. Visit our site for our planning services and connect with one of our funeral home professionals. 

Schumacher & Benner Funeral Home and Crematory is the only private on-site crematory in Pottstown, PA. That is why we can truly say, your loved one never leaves our care. Our funeral directors are crematory technicians certified by the Cremation Association of North America, which provides advanced certifications to help insure the highest standards.  

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